Poems and Poetry

Dawn Comes in the Berry Patch | A Poem by Roy Pullam

She shook me awake
It was still dark
I could smell the biscuits
Baking in the oven
Of the coal stove
Dad sat at the table
His mug in his hand
Mother made sandwiches
We ate in haste
Taking our buckets
We hoped to get
At the briar patch
Right at dawn
Dad had found it
Lush veins
On a ditch bank
Larger fruit
Waiting for the picking
We hoped
To fill our buckets
Before the sun
Burned directly
Over us
The sweat
Pouring in the scratches
Burning my 9 year old body
We needed the money
Dad’s mine
Working three days a week
With no demand for coal
In the hot summer time
With bills to pay
Food for the table
That demand
Never stopped
Never slacked
Even when work did
Dad picked fast
Raking the berries
With practiced hands
I struggled to keep up
But my mind
Was on ball
On swimming
What other boys
Did Saturday mornings
But mine
Was a different life
One where the family
Struggled together
Finding any option
To survive
We filled our buckets
Beginning the long walk home
We would sell the berries
Seventy five cent a gallon
For two hours work
How I looked forward
To the cool bath
The grape Kool-Aid
In the icebox
A Coke was better
But a package
Of the sweet powder
Was only a nickel
I would settle
For the cold
To wet my parched throat
To sit
Under the sugar maple
For awhile
Resting until evening
Cooled enough
For us to pick again

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